Alopecia Hair Loss: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

alopecia hair loss

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Last night at the Oscars, Will Smith strutted up on stage and slapped Chris Rock after the comedian made a joke at the expense of Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, who is experiencing hair loss related to alopecia.

Before presenting an award midway through the Oscars, Rock took a jab at Jada saying, “Jada, I love you. ‘G.I. Jane 2,’ can’t wait to see it,” referring to the 1997 film “G.I. Jane,” which featured Demi Moore with a shaved head.

Jada recently shaved her head because, as she explained in an Instagram video, she’s been “struggling with alopecia.”

Alopecia areata is a common autoimmune disorder that often results in unpredictable hair loss. It affects roughly 6.8 million people in the United States.

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What is Alopecia?

Alopecia is an autoimmune disorder that can cause hair to fall out in areas of your body, and for some throughout your body.

In the majority of cases, hair falls out in small patches or clumps. For most people, the hair loss is nothing more than a few patches, though in some cases it can be more extreme.

This autoimmune condition can affect anyone regardless of age and gender, though most cases occur before the age of 30.

Sometimes, it can lead to the complete loss of hair on the scalp (alopecia totalis) or, in extreme cases, the entire body (alopecia universalis)

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The different types of Alopecia

Alopecia Areata

Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease, which means the hair loss occurs when the immune system attacks your hair follicles and is in specific parts of your scalp or areas of your body.

Symptoms: Hair loss that results in small, patchy bald spots.
Outlook: There’s no cure, but lost hair can grow back with treatment.

There are a few different kinds of alopecia areata. Let’s dig into the most common ones.

Androgenetic Alopecia

Pattern hair loss can occur in men and women when hair becomes thinner all over the head rather than receding from the hair line (temple area).

Symptoms: Thinning hair on your crown, a receding hairline, or both.
Outlook: While there’s no cure, treatment can stop the condition from getting worse.

Androgenic alopecia is the number one cause of hair loss in the entire world. Despite its nickname, male pattern baldness, it affects women too.

Androgenic alopecia is the type of hair loss that can lead to baldness at the crown or hairline but usually doesn’t impact hair on the back and sides of the head.

Cicatricial or Scarring Alopecia

A group of conditions that destroy the hair follicle and replace it with scar tissue.

Symptoms: Hair loss that leaves scars under the surface of the skin.
Outlook: This type of hair loss unfortunately can’t be reversed.

Cicatricial is a rare form of alopecia, also known as scarring alopecia, where hair follicles on the scalp are destroyed by inflammation and replaced with scar tissue.

The scar tissue forms beneath the surface of the skin, which means that the only way to spot this condition is to look for missing patches of hair. Hair loss from this form of alopecia is permanent, because once the follicles’ stem cells and sebaceous glands are destroyed, the hair can’t grow back.

Alopecia Totalis

Alopecia areata typically goes away on its own or with treatment, but if it doesn’t, it can develop into alopecia totalis. That’s when all of the hair on your scalp falls out. This hair loss can happen quickly or slowly.

Alopecia Universalis

This is the most advanced (and rarest) form of alopecia areata. Alopecia universalis causes all of the hair on your body to fall out—including your eyebrows and eyelashes.

Chemotherapy-Induced Alopecia

Chemotherapy-induced alopecia (CIA) is one of the most dramatic side effects of chemotherapy and occurs in about 65% of patients receiving cytotoxic drugs. The hair-shaft shedding can occur from a few days to weeks after the beginning of chemotherapy, with different shedding patterns depending on the severity of the insult. Specifically, telogen effluvium is associated with mild to moderate damage, while dystrophic anagen effluvium follows severe damage.

Postpartum Alopecia

Symptoms: Noticeable hair loss 2-3 months after giving birth.
Outlook: There’s no proven way to slow this hair loss, but it usually returns to its normal rate after a few months.

Postpartum alopecia, also known as postpartum telogen effluvium, is hair loss that affects women shortly after giving birth. Some shedding after a pregnancy ends is normal, but for some women, the hair loss is severe enough to be really noticeable. Because postpartum alopecia is caused by hormonal shifts, it’s usually temporary—after about a year, hormone levels go back to normal and the hair should grow back.

Traction Alopecia

Symptoms: A receding hairline or patches of hair loss around the temples (and a penchant for tight braids).
Outlook: The hair can grow back, but unaddressed traction alopecia can cause permanent damage.

This condition often comes from keeping your hair in braids or other tight hairstyles for so long that it gets permanently damaged. You won’t get this from braiding your hair every once in a while, but if you see your hairline starting to recede, you may consider wearing your hair in a less demanding hairstyle.

The role of vitamins and nutrients linked to alopecia

There are studies that show treating hair loss in non-scarring alopecia can first be linked to micronutrients that are lacking in our bodies. Micronutrients are responsible for your immune system and response as well as the overall health of your hair follicle.

Studies have shown patients suffering from alopecia areata also have low levels of vitamin D, iron and vitamin C.

Can hair growth supplements help with alopecia hair loss?

Well-rounded nutrients encourage healthy hair growth and may prevent alopecia areata (AA) from happening to you. Goldie Locks® hair growth supplements include important micronutrients such as vitamins A, B, C, D and E, along with zinc, selenium and iron that may help you to prevent and/or regrow hair caused by alopecia.

Learn more about how Goldie Locks® may help you with hair loss.

Goldie Locks hair growth supplements for alopecia

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